Seafood firms see cost of living bite as sales soften slightly

Two Grimsby seafood operations in separate Japanese ownership saw sales slow slightly as the cost of living crisis bit.

Both Northcoast Seafoods Ltd and Flatfish are now under Far East control, with the former’s buy-out completing in the past year. Both have filed their results for the calendar-aligned periods this past week.

Seafood Connection Holdings BV, a subsidiary of Maruha Nichiro, bought Northcoast from founder Fridrik Thorsteinsson, while Flatfish, with founding chief executive Steven Stansfield remaining at the helm, sold a 75 per cent controlling interest to Nissui in 2019.

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At Northcoast, on South Humberside Industrial Estate, turnover was down 2.7 per cent from £121.4 million to £118.1 million, reflecting “global market trading conditions due to the impact of coronavirus, the war in the Ukraine and increased inflation costs”. Pre-tax profits were, however, up from £2.3 million to £3.5 million.

“The first three quarters of the year were adversely impacted by high logistics costs due to both coronavirus and the Ukrainian war, however these started to decline quickly in quarter four which will be welcome news for 2023,” managing director Adrian Crookes said in the strategic report accompanying the results. “The Ukrainian war also had an adverse impact on global raw material costs as customers and consumers moved away from Russian sourced raw materials. Northcoast Seafoods continues, as always, to adapt quickly to challenging trading conditions.”

Highs of £148 million had been seen in 2020, but the business sold a Danish subsidiary, with UK sales now at a higher level than recorded then. Launched almost a quarter of a century ago by Mr Thorsteinsson, initially to trade in Atlantic prawns, it swooped for Stallingborough-based Ambassador Seafoods, before setting up a new base on Estate Road One, yards from Hilton Seafood and what will become Espersen, the former Iceland Seafood UK and Five Star Fish operation.

Mr Thorsteinsson was diagnosed with a rare brain condition in 2021, leading to last year’s sale. Staff numbers were up from 137 to 141 in the period.

Flatfish directors, from left, Richard, Steve and Reece Stansfield, pictured on their demonstration counter.
Flatfish directors, from left, Richard, Steve and Reece Stansfield, pictured on their demonstration counter.

Flatfish, bought byJapanese firm Nissui in 2019, saw sales fall almost 4 per cent from £40.8 million to £39.2 million, with the cost-of-living crisis flagged. High-end retailer Waitrose is one key customer. Pre-tax profits dropped from £771,000 to £288,000 as inflationary pressures hit – with energy a particular spike. Headcount was also up four, to 136.

The year had seen the acquisition of doorstep delivery operation Regal Fish Supplies Ltd in November, a “strategic decision based on a long term objective” according to Mr Stansfield. In his strategic report, he added: “The directors are satisfied with the performance over the last 12 months given the challenges we faced. The business had been agile in its response in order to satisfy the demands of our customers and consumers while delivering superior quality, value for money and best in sector service levels.”

Original artice – https://business-live.co.uk/all-about/yorkshire-humber

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